The Hard Mix Blend Mode is AMAZING!

I could tell you all day long that the Hard Mix Blend Mode is the most fantastic Blend Mode in Photoshop, but you’d have to see it to believe it.  That is because the Hard Mix Blend Mode,  when applied “as-is” is trash, it’s horrible at best.

The Hard Mix Blend Mode is in the Contrast Blend Mode group and derives it’s power from the Linear Light Blend Mode, consider it a distant cousin.  When you first apply the HArd Mix blend mode you will see a considerable amount of Black, White, and maybe some variation of speckled Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Magenta, or Cyan.  What it does is break your image down into eight colors and only eight colors.  Pointless right?

When first applied it is pointless.  However, Hard Mix (like its distant cousin Linear Light) is controlled by FILL, primarily,  and Opacity secondarily.  Typically I use the Hard Mix Blend Mode with a Color Fill Adjustment Layer.   It looks like this:

  1.  Apply a Solid Color Fill to your image.
  2. Change the Blend Mode to Hard Mix
  3. Drop the Fill between 15 and 25%
  4. Now use Opacity to control the intensity
Before Hard Mix Blend Mode in Photoshop After Hard Mix Blend Mode in Photoshop

What is happening here is that the Fill is constraining the EQUATION of how the layer you have selected with Hard Mix will interact with the rest of the pixels.   Opacity is controlling the INTENSITY of the blend mode after the equation.

Confusing?  No worries,  watch the video tutorial below and PLEASE download the actions I created for you here as well.

Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it is less about the art and more about the process. He dives deep into difficult topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside the box thinking.
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